Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beyond Goodbye

It's been a long time since I posted anything new. Sorry. My heart just hurts so much sometimes it's easier to try and avoid the pain. Our Grace has been gone almost 6 months. Are you kidding me? It could have been yesterday. Most people would think the pain would be better by now, and truthfully in some ways it is and in other ways it's worse. I don't feel like I'm being torn in two every second of every day anymore, but with each day that passes I miss her more deeply. She feels farther away and I feel a little panicky if I let myself go there. I tear up unexpectedly when I catch a glimps of her on someones past face book pictures, or see a picture of a rainbow, or stumble across something of hers under the couch or behind a closet door, or in a bathroom drawer. I always leave those things there. Even though it makes me sad to see them, they are constant reminders that she is still a part of us and always be. I don't want to put any more of her away in a trunk or closet or garage. When I miss her too much I start to worry about her. The worry is like little weeds growing among beautiful flowers planted by God. They try to make their creeping roots deeper and take over the soil of my heart. They want to choke out the good God wants for me and destroy the joy God intends me to experience in life. I have to keep going back to the truth God has laid out in his word... that she is safe, and well, and happy, and healthy. Her body is buried under several feet of dirt in a quiet place where the wind whispers secrets and the sun shines full on her sparkly blue stone, but her spirit is free and living loud with the heavenly hosts. I feel myself relax and find air able to enter my lungs again. I'm beginning to fully realize we will never get over this, and pray for God to walk us though it the rest of our days here on earth.

In the last several weeks we have done many things as a family to remember our girl. We attended a memorial service with too many other families also going though the grief of loosing a child this last year while at Children's. Mae (our 7 year old) cried at the service. She's only cried a few times since Grace died, and I imagine it was good for her to see other brothers and sisters who had lost a sibling this year. To know she's not alone in her feelings and loss either.

We recently made a purchase in memory of Grace for our family. The last benefit blessed us enough to nearly break even financially after a very difficult time during Grace's long illness. Thank you again to all of you who were a part of that event. We felt so loved and even though it was a bitter-sweet day as she had just joined Jesus a few weeks before, it was such a testament to the many lives her life and story touched. Since our financial needs were met by the benefit, we used what was left of her life insurance after paying Grace's final expenses to buy a camper for our family. When Grace had first talked to the Make-a-Wish people she knew what she wanted. A camper. For ALL of us to enjoy and to be able to spend time together. That girl loved everything about camping. The camp fires, the getting hot and dirty then jumping in a cool lake, watching movies when it was raining, running in the woods, climbing trees, and sleeping "outside". The Make-a-Wish people talked her out of a camper and into a Disney trip, which was such a good thing. Had we gotten the camper at that time she never would have gotten to use it. Instead, we went to Disney World and she had the time of her life just 3 short weeks before she took her final earthly breath. So.... recently we honored Grace and bought her camper and took our family out for a trial run on the Memorial Day weekend. It was painful and wonderful. We should paint her name on it... and there will be more pictures of her on the walls in it soon too. We have several camping trips planned for the summer, and each time will thank Grace for such a beautiful gift.

We've been working hard on a garden in our backyard in memory of Grace. The money for all the flowers and shrubs was given to our family from Grace's 4th grade friends mom's specifically for a garden. I continue to stand amazed at peoples generosity and compassionate hearts. It will be beautiful but has been a ton of work and there is much still to do. So far it includes "Happy Return" Day Lillies, a "Superstar" Spiria bush, "Wine and Roses" Wigelia bushes, Miscanthus Flame Oriental Grass and a "Paul's Glory" Hasta. Most of the flowers will be in the pink/ purple/ blue hues as those were Grace's favorite colors... but all the colors of the rainbow will be represented somewhere too! The retaining walls are up and an angel statue is seated in her new garden home. I'll post some pictures here soon. My God-daughter celebrated her 10th birthday today. Grace and her were just a few months apart in age. Being the sweet heart she is, instead of donating her birthday money to the food shelf this year she wanted to give the money from her party to us to buy something for Grace's garden. Such a beautiful gift from a very special girl. Happy Birthday, honey. We love you and there is no doubt that your Mom and Grace had cake together today in honor of your birthday and were very proud of your generous heart.

Thank you to each of you for your continued prayers and for continuing to follow our journey of finding some measure of healing. I ask that you also pray for a little boy named Michael and his family. He is a 5 year old with the same cancer Grace had. Short of a miracle, he is nearing the end of his earthly journey and it just crushes my heart. Pray for his mom and dad and brother too. They will need God's tender love and comfort in the weeks or days to come and for the lifetime of healing following. I know that prayer makes a difference. We felt them during those darkest days walking Grace "home", and I know people from all over the world read this blog. The USA, Estonia, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Austria, United Kingdom, Guatemala, Denmark, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany and others... please join us in lifting this family to heaven as they walk through and go beyond goodbye.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joe and Annette,
    We stopped by to see you tonight (unannounced) to see your garden but no one was home. Oh well. Next time. Can't believe Malia has been away from us for six months. Life moves so fast and yet God remains the same. This is the comfort we hold to when we feel like something is wrong as we move forward from our pain or distress. God reminds us that Malia is with him and that we will see her again shortly. The Spirit comforts us. Love you guys and praying for you.